The Madhya Pradesh government has declined to share details of meetings of civil services board that decides on the postings of bureaucrats, saying they were "confidential" and barred under the RTI Act. As per rules, all states should have a civil services board to decide on transfers and postings of bureaucrats-- mainly officers of Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFoS). The board is mandated to decide on the transfer of a civil servant before completion of his or her fixed tenure. Anti-corruption activist Ajay Dubey had filed an RTI application with the state government to know the details of proceedings of board during the months of July, August and September 2017. The state government in its reply said the information consisted of communication between the state government and the Centre, which was confidential in nature and it could not be shared. It cited Section 8(1)(j) of the transparency law to decline the information. The section bars "personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information". The service rules, however, mandate the civil services board to submit an annual report on January 1 to the central government about the date of the meetings held by them and also to upload the same on the website of the concerned state government or Union territory in public domain. Dubey said there is no such data in public domain on the proceedings of the civil services board of the Madhya Pradesh. "The plea of secrecy or confidentiality is illogical.
The state government is trying to hide something," he said. The civil services board is headed by chief secretary of a state and has senior most additional chief secretary or chairman, Board of Revenue, financial commissioner or an officer of equivalent rank and status as member. In addition, it will have principal secretary or secretary, Department of Personnel in the state government as member secretary. To insulate the bureaucracy from political interference and to put an end to frequent transfers of civil servants by political bosses, the Supreme Court had in 2013 directed the Centre and the states to set up a civil services board to consider transfers and postings of bureaucrats among others. The stability of all India services officers -- IAS, IPS and IFoS -- especially in the states, has been a matter of concern for a long time.
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